11

September

Should We Support Clay Matthews’ Late Hit?

I think everyone agrees Clay Matthews made a bone headed decision by trying to take down Colin Kaepernick on 3rd down; but deep down, especially after the miserable loss to the 49ers in the playoffs last year, we all cheered.  Admit it, you were happy when Colin Kaepernick hit the turf (I’ll admit it).  I’ll even wager some Packers fans kept cheering as Matthews and the rest of the defense got in the ensuing brawl.

This in my mind was a sort of collective validation for Packers fans, who were sick and tired of listening to the allegations of the Packers being a “soft” team and were looking for some example to show everyone otherwise.  On Green and Gold Today, surprisingly multiple callers chimed in that they had no problem with late hit and wouldn’t mind seeing Matthews do the same again.

To me this is a very dangerous slippery slope; it’s one thing to play aggressive and at the edge of the rules, it’s another thing to break them.  You simply have to look east to see what happens when a team takes it’s aggressiveness too far.

The Detroit Lions to become the first ever team in NFL history to go 0-16 after 7 years of catastrophically poor management by general manager Matt Millen.  Obviously with such a dumpster fire there was a clean sweep within the organization and the Lions ownership sought to bring in a new mentality to the team.  Starting with head coach Jim Schwartz, the Lions sought to be “tougher”, a team that wouldn’t be a push over and get back to being a relevant organization.  Sounds like a good plan, but ultimately I think it’s backfired; in the past couple seasons the Lions have been a far better team than their record suggests, which is directly due to their “toughness” literally losing them games.

Since Schwartz’s hiring, the Lions have perennially been one of the most penalized teams in the NFL and are now famous for their lack of control and abundance of head scratching personal fouls.  Ndamukong Suh has been voted as the dirtiest player in the NFL after multiple questionable hits and some very stupid mistakes including the EDS stomp, the Matt Schaub’s stomp and just last week the John Sullivan low block that apparently will cost him $100,000.

3

September

Around the NFC North: Week 1

Around the NFC North

Week 1 of the 2013 season is finally here!

Seven months later, football is back!  The 2013 NFL season will kick off this week as the Denver Broncos host the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens on Thursday.

Preseason is over, rosters are set and fans are itching to see their team play a game that matters.  As we look at the NFC North heading into week one, there is a storyline to be found with each team.

The Chicago Bears fired head coach Lovie Smith and have begun the Marc Trestman era.  The Bears hope that Trestman can get more out of quarterback Jay Cutler than could the defensive-minded Smith.  The Bears will also be without star linebacker Brian Urlacher for the first time in over 12 seasons.

The Detroit Lions return much of their 2012 roster, which finished last season with a 4-12 record.  It was a disappointment after the Lions made a playoff appearance following the 2011 season.  Lost in last year’s dismal record was receiver Calvin Johnson’s record-setting season.  Johnson broke Jerry Rice’s record for receiving yards in a season with 1,892.  Johnson has said he has his sights set on a 2,000 yard season.  On the defensive side of the ball, Detroit drafted defensive lineman Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah, who had a strong preseason.  Ansah joins a formidable Detroit defensive line that already includes Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh.

The Green Bay Packers let long-time veterans Greg Jennings and Charles Woodson go and locked up quarterback Aaron Rodgers and linebacker Clay Matthews to lucrative contract extensions.  Green Bay also drafted two running backs in the early rounds of this year’s draft.  Eddie Lacy figures to be the team’s starting back come week one and will try to help balance the Packers offense and open up more opportunities for Rodgers to make plays with his arm.

In Minnesota, the Vikings signed more former Packers in Jennings and linebacker Desmond Bishop.  Jennings will be called on to help quarterback Christian Ponder take steps forward within the offense as well as mentor rookie receiver Cordarelle Patterson.  Minnesota got busy on the draft’s opening day and ended up with three picks in the first round.  In addition to Patterson, the Vikings also selected defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd and cornerback Xavier Rhodes.  In the end, it will all come down to how well Ponder can play.

27

December

Around the NFC North in Week 17

Around the NFC North

Around the NFC North in week 17

In week 17, The NFL is getting what it always hopes for when they create the schedule each spring.  Each of this week’s NFC North matchups have playoff implications and there is another NFL record in jeopardy.

After the Detroit Lions’ Calvin Johnson broke Jerry Rice’s single-season receiving yardage record last week, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has the single-season rushing record in his sights.  Peterson needs just 208 yards to break Eric Dickerson’s record of 2,105 yards.

Peterson’s Vikings host the Green Bay Packers and that game has been flexed by the NFL to the 3pm CDT time slot.  It is setting up to be one of the better matchups around the league.  Green Bay can secure the second seed with a victory or both a San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks loss.  For the Vikings, it’s simple:  win and they’re in.

The Chicago Bears are still alive in the wild card race after beating the Arizona Cardinals.  Chicago travels to Detroit and must win to keep any hopes alive of securing the last wild card spot.  The Bears also are in the precarious position of having to cheer for their arch enemy Packers.  Should Bears win and the Packers beat the Vikings, the Bears would claim the sixth and final seed in the NFC.

Let’s look at the matchups and playoff scenarios a bit more closely.

Chicago Bears (9-6) at Detroit Lions (4-11)

The Lions got pounded by the Atlanta Falcons this past Saturday to make official what we already knew:  Detroit is horrible.  The only bright spot in the game, and really their entire season, was Johnson  surpassing Rice’s previous total.  Rice established the record of 1,848 yards with the San Francisco 49ers in 1995.

Johnson and the Lions can deliver a huge jab to the gut of Chicago by pulling off the upset this week.  A Chicago loss would eliminate the Bears from playoff contention.  While it’s not likely given the recently level of play by both teams, crazy things have happened this season and Detroit has at least an outside shot of pulling off the win.

19

December

Around the NFC North in Week 16

Around the NFC North

Around the NFC North in week 16

With just two games left in the 2012 regular season, there is a full slate in the NFC North this week.  Each game carries its own significance as far as the playoff race is concerned as at least one team in each matchup is fighting for better playoff seeding and some are fighting to just get in, period.

Let’s take a look at the implications in each matchup.

Atlanta Falcons (12-2) at Detroit Lions (4-10)

The only reason this game is listed first is because it is the lone Saturday game and takes place before all others.  Beyond that, it all comes down to a very complete Falcons team coming into Detroit to face arguably the most disappointing team in the NFL this season.

Last weekend, Detroit was manhandled by the Arizona Cardinals 38-10.  Arizona had previously lost their last nine straight games.  The Lions have succeeded in one thing this season:  finding many ways to lose a game.  While they won’t be appearing in the postseason this year, they will have plenty of time during the offseason to figure out why.

The biggest question in Detroit right now is who will still be with the team in 2013?  Head coach Jim Schwartz will surely be the topic of those conversations during the winter.

While Atlanta has wrapped up the NFC South and currently has the best record in the NFC, they have yet to secure the first or second seed in the postseason.  They have their eyes set on being the top seed and therefore also securing home field advantage throughout the playoffs.  The Falcons can do so by winning their last two games, regardless of what any of the other contenders do.

However, a loss by Atlanta would begin to open a door for both the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers, who currently hold the second and third seeds, respectively.

While the Lions have pride to play for and certainly fit the bill of a team that could be pesky during these last two weeks, I don’t expect that pride to get them anywhere near Atlanta’s level this week.  Detroit’s best chance of success this week will probably be the 50% odds they have in winning the opening coin toss.

13

December

Around the NFC North in Week 15

Around the NFC North

Around the NFC North in week 15

It’s already the NFL’s week 15 and let’s cut to the chase in the NFC North.  This is a week that most Packers fans had circled on the schedule as soon as it came out.  Is there a more intense week in the Packers universe than “Bears week”?

The Green Bay Packers travel to Chicago to take on the Bears in this highly-anticipated game that will be the marquis matchup not just in the NFC North, but in the NFL.

The Packers can clinch their second straight North division title with a win.  The Bears would re-enter the divisional race as a strong contender should they emerge victorious.  The early line this week favors Green Bay by three.

The Minnesota Vikings will travel to St. Louis to take on the Rams.  This ends up being an interesting game because neither of these teams wants to go away quietly this year.

The week is rounded off by the Detroit Lions visiting the Arizona Cardinals in the “futility bowl”.  Nothing more than pride is on the line in that contest.

Let’s dive into the matchups and the storylines alike.

Green Bay Packers (9-4) at Chicago Bears (8-5)

Because of the major playoff implications, I’m leading off with this matchup and will go more in depth with this game.

This game has changed shape immensely in the past month.  What was being billed as possibly one of the biggest game on the NFL schedule this season has turned into somewhat of a last stand for the Bears.

After starting the season 7-1, the Bears have lost four of their last five games including two in a row since the return of quarterback Jay Cutler.  After suffering a concussion during a loss to the Houtson Texans, Cutler was forced to miss a key game against the San Francisco 49ers.  The 9ers beat the Bears handily for a second straight loss.  They beat the Vikings but then suffered a tough overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks and followed that up with this past week’s loss in the rematch with Minnesota on the road.

Chicago will be without defensive playmakers Brian Urlacher who may end up on injured reserve with a hamstring injury, and cornerback Tim Jennings who leads the NFL in interceptions with eight.  Jennings dislocated his shoulder late in the loss to the Seattle and is currently doubtful for this week’s game.

12

December

Packers 27, Lions 20: Game Balls and Lame Calls (with Podcast)

Aaron Rodgers

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers celebrates his 27 yard touchdown run, the longest of his career

It started out ugly but the Green Bay Packers pulled out yet another early victory and swept the season series against the Detroit Lions with a 27-20 victory at Lambeau Field.

It was a rather unusual win for the Packers.  They gained nearly as many yards on the ground as they did through the air and after 35 consecutive games, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers did not throw a touchdown pass at Lambeau Field.

The emergence of the running game was the story of this contest, as well as the Packers not panicking after spotting Detroit an early 14-0 lead.  They showed once again that no team handles adversity better than they do and that will serve them well going into the playoffs.  If the running game can continue to grow, then Rodgers will go from being deadly to unstoppable.   A solid Packers rushing attack is the last thing many opponents want to see.

Here are the good and not-so-good performances from the game against the Lions.

Note: Want to hear our “experts” expand on their selections as well as discuss the game and give you the “Packers Stock Report?” Check out the podcast to hear more reasons for their picks. Listen in using the player below or download the podcast from the Packers Talk Radio Network on Itunes.

Listen to internet radio with Packers Talk Radio Network on Blog Talk Radio

Game Balls


WR Randall Cobb

What else can be said about Randall Cobb that has not already been said?

On a night where the Packers pretty much ran the ball better than they threw it, Cobb was the game’s leading receiver with six catches for 107 yards including another incredible one handed grab that has gone from stunning to borderline ho-hum for the budding superstar out of Kentucky.

Once Jordy Nelson returns to health, the Packers will once again be at full strength at the receiver position and with a decent running game possibly now in tow, the Packers very well could be hitting their stride offensively at the perfect time.  If the running game takes some pressure off of Cobb, then look out.

RB Alex Green

9

December

Packers vs. Lions – Game Day First Impressions, Unfiltered: GB 27 DET 20

Packers Mike Daniels Fumble Recovery TD - JSOnline.com

Packers Mike Daniels Fumble Recovery TD

Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions:

My unfitered game day running blog post of comments, observations and first impressions.

Inactive for Packers today: CB Charles Woodson, LB Clay Matthews, WR Jordy Nelson, DL CJ Wilson, DL Mike Neal, LB Terrell Manning, RB James Starks

Inactive for Lions today:  DT Corey Williams, S Louis Delmas, WR Lance Long, QB Kellen Moore, OT Corey Hilliard, OT Jason Fox, DE Ronnell Lewis

 

Game Notes:

The Packers have beaten Detroit  in 20 straight regular season games at Lambeau Field – an NFL record.

The Packers have won 10 straight divisional games – a franchise record.

Thanks to the Vikings win over the Bears today, the Packers have a chance to open a two-game lead (with tiebreaker) over Chicago with 3 games left in the season after tonight.

The Packers have only 4 DL active in this game – expect them to play most of the game in nickel or dime with only one or two DL.

Tonight’s weather at Lambeau: 33 degrees, wind 10mph from the east, 92% humidity, light snow through 9pm CT

It’s snowing at game time. I was at the Seattle playoff snow globe game. What a treat fans at the game are in for tonight.

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Mike McCarthy Pregame Show on 620 WTMJ:

Divisional games against same team so close together:  You definitely plan for 2 games before the season even starts, we just stuck to our 2-game plan. We’ll have some wrinkles for them and I’m sure they’ll have some for us.

Ryan Grant: He looked very natural coming back – there have been some terminology changes from last year. He’s comfortable with the game plan and I would not hesitate to use Ryan.

TJ Lang: We’re going to work Lang in pre-game and then come back in and make a decision on him.

Bears loss: I’m sure everyone’s aware of it. Hell, we’ve been here all damn day waiting for this game to start.

Lions record: Very talented football team. they have lost a lot of close game.

Stafford:  I think he has a lot of arm talent. Has great confidence – not afraid to stick it in there on tight coverage.